January 24, 2010

With all of the fear spewing from the conservative Right about hope and change destroying this country, we have seen little to back up their claim over the last year. Wall Street and the financial industries have received billions, while homeowners lose their homes and file for bankruptcy. The military-industrial complex continues to grow while being fed regular doses of cash.

Health care reform proposals went from a universal, single-payer system down to a public option to expanding Medicare for those 55 and older to nothing. However, as the debate comes to a close, health care reform may lead to people forced to buy insurance, or face a financial penalty, and being taxed if fortunate enough to have medical coverage!

Now, the playing field for working people has became more uneven with the ruling by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Overturning a precedent set over 60 years ago, the decision found that corporations, nonprofit organizations and labor unions no longer would be restricted from utilizing their own funds to create and run ad campaigns for the purpose of supporting or defeating candidates.

November 29, 2009

With the U.S. House vote Nov. 7 approving historic health care reform, America's working families are another step closer to winning quality, affordable health care for all.

The citizens of Indiana owe thanks to U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ninth, who voted for the bill. Rep. Hill and other representatives who supported the bill faced down a daylong barrage of blatant falsehoods from opponents. Let's get the facts straight.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act, which now must be merged with a bill the Senate is expected to pass in coming weeks, covers 96 percent of Americans, is fully paid for and reduces the federal deficit, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The White House Council of Economic Advisers confirms it will aid job creation in both the short term and the long term.

November 15, 2009

It was another great day in Bloomington on Oct. 21 when the Bloomington City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance that will start addressing issues important to workers, respectable contractors and the taxpayers. A "thank you" goes out to all of our Bloomington representatives.

After working with Mayor Mark Kruzan, city attorney Kevin Robling and assistant Mike Rouker, City Council members Andy Ruff and Isabel Piedmont-Smith co-sponsored the Responsible Bidder Ordinance (RBO 09-18) and promoted its enactment. Bloomington has taken the lead again among Indiana cities and passed another important social policy for the betterment of the community.

October 18, 2009

Communications Workers of America, Local 4730

Indiana University continues to ignore the needs of its support staff. While many departments have acted responsibly and creatively to avoid cutting staffing levels, it has only tempered the damage caused by having a workforce that is constantly overworked while being chronically underpaid.

The most recent Trustees meeting provided ample evidence that IU is willing to continue to fund buildings and faculty hires but not provide for the financial needs of its current employees.

October 18, 2009

The propaganda, misconceptions, and outright lies that prevailed during the first round of debates in Congress surrounding the Employee Free Choice Act (ECFA) fail to compare to the rhetoric spewing out of the people and organizations that are against health-care reform. Now that Congress has placed the ECFA on the back burner, the health care debate has taken a life of its own for some who separate those who are "patriotic" and believers in "democracy" and those who supposedly aren't.

The best option, a single-payer health-care plan as proposed under H.R. 676, would continue to provide a choice of doctors and health-care providers without any exclusions or limitations from the private sector. This is very different from a system where the government employs doctors and hospitals under "socialized medicine" and is often confused by ignorance or intent when opponents try to scare us and demonize Single Payer.

September 6, 2009

The American labor movement has a long history of fighting for the rights of not only union members, but for all workers. The eight-hour workday, safer work conditions and the elimination of child labor are just a few of the rights we take for granted that were gained through the sweat and blood of rank and file union members over the last century.

Unions are still on the front line fighting for the rights of all Americans in a battle between what's best for corporate America and what's right for all of us. Passing universal health care is an issue that will not only transform the lives of millions but will be remembered as the moment when this country lived up to its ideal of equality and declared that access to health care is a right for all of its citizens, not just for those who can afford it.

If not now, when?

June 14, 2009

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce has followed the position taken by the Indiana and national Chambers of Commerce by publicly opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The EFCA is a piece of federal labor legislation aimed at rebalancing the power between workers and their employers in the workplace. EFCA would restore workers' rights lost due to unfair rulings by hostile Labor Board appointments, illegal tactics utilized by employers and the fact there is little incentive for following the law because penalties are effectively non-existent.

The Chamber's position that it is worried about how the new law would affect employees is comical. I never realized the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce was the voice for working people. I would have more respect for that proposition if they would come clean and say the obvious; they are concerned that they might lose the ability to circumvent the law. Let's remember what it states in Section 1 of the National Labor Relations Act and see how it compares to the real world as we see it today:

May 3, 2009

The business world is up in arms about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier for workers to unionize, by obliging companies to recognize a union once a majority of workers sign verified union cards. This would replace the more common practice of voting in union representation elections, which take several months and are conducted by secret ballot. The Wall Street Journal on March 26 called this “antidemocratic,” but it’s the employers, not union organizers, who flex the muscle in union elections. The reality lies in two words: “You’re fired.”

In a recent report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) calculated that employers fire an impressive one in five union activists during union election campaigns. Using a conservative calculation method developed by University of Chicago economists, the report concludes that pro-union workers in general have a one-in-50 chance of being fired by their employers during a union election campaign. But employers “are unlikely to fire workers randomly, or simply for expressing pro-union views. Employers maximize the return to illegal firing by focusing on union activists.”

The Journal leaves out exactly how secret ballots will protect workers once they’ve been canned for supporting unionization.

April 19, 2009

Dear Trustees of Indiana University:

The time is coming for you to make some important decisions about the IU budget for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. We understand that it is a difficult and challenging task that you face. However it is imperative that you consider factors beyond simply numbers.

You must also take into account the human element, the living, breathing people who do the work of keeping the university healthy and vital and who make it possible for IU to provide the best possible education to students. Without experienced, loyal and caring staff, IU's mission and promise to students will be compromised.

April 19, 2009

The time is now for workers to voice their concerns and relay the message that we are serious. Labor has plenty of catching up to do after eight years of anti-worker and anti-union policies under the Bush administration. It's almost overwhelming. However, in no certain terms should the fact that the Obama administration has assumed office lead us to believe things are going to be okay any time soon.

Let's review for a second. Under Bush, millions of newly defined "supervisory" workers lost their legal right to receive overtime pay; employers openly fired and intimidated workers trying to organize collectively; prevailing wage laws were rescinded; and millions of other workers lost their status as covered "employees" (temporary and disabled workers) under labor law cases as decided by the National Labor Relations Board.

Agencies established to assist and protect workers had their funding slashed and personnel cut (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Mining and Health Administration and the Department of Labor); factory closings continued as trade agreements expanded and outsourcing flourished; millions went without or lost health care; and pensions and retirement funds vanished. The list can go on for a few more pages, but I'll stop.

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